Siemens USA CEO: Supporting bold action on infrastructure

Let’s act now to address the semiconductor shortage and boost U.S. manufacturing resilience

By: Barbara Humpton, President and CEO, Siemens USA

Earlier this year I wrote an open letter to government leaders outlining a broader vision for America’s infrastructure that goes well beyond roads and bridges. In it, I shared Siemens’ support for investing in manufacturing technology; enabling a new era for electric vehicles; embracing cleaner, more resilient energy systems; and transforming America’s buildings.


These priorities are reflected in the Biden-Harris Administration’s American Jobs Plan, an ambitious proposal to build for the next century of American growth and leadership. And as infrastructure legislation advances in Congress, our hope is that the aims of the American Jobs Plan remain intact.


My last blog post touched on the importance of accelerating the bold climate change goals established by the Administration last week with support from more than 400 companies, including Siemens. In this one, I want to highlight another opportunity before us in the American Jobs Plan to support job creation, increase social equity, raise U.S. competitiveness, and ensure national resilience in the face of any crisis: This is the moment to modernize American manufacturing and develop the workforce of the future.


Siemens has 26 manufacturing sites nationwide and employs thousands of manufacturing workers and engineers.


Our operations are supported by a robust network of 24,000 U.S. suppliers. When we build a train, that job alone draws in 2,000 suppliers across 40 states.


Our perspective also comes from being a technology provider to industry. Over 90 percent of Fortune 500 industrial companies, and many small and midsize manufacturers, use Siemens technology. 


So, yes, American manufacturing hasn’t always been associated with the work to modernize the nation’s infrastructure. Yet the pandemic and its associated product shortages have changed that by revealing the need for “glocalization.” Strong local supply chains providing multiple sources of critical supplies, combined with the capability to rapidly produce the things we need at scale, is critical for America as we prepare to face the next crisis.


In other words, what we thought of as industry challenges – aged automation systems, slow adoption of digitalization, or more than 400,000 open positions – are now matters of national competitiveness and resilience. Thus, the first step to bolstering the supply chain is modernizing the industrial base. Making sure U.S. manufacturers are using the latest software and automation tools will directly address the logistical and communications challenges that have contributed to supply shortages. Let’s ask ourselves: Can we bring digital transformation to all U.S. manufacturers – from the largest companies to the Department of Defense’s Organic Industrial Base (OIB) to the local suppliers and factories?


This is why Siemens supports targeted investments aimed at strengthening industrial supply chains for microelectronics such as semiconductors. This includes our support to maximally fund the CHIPS Act, which will incentivize local manufacturing, as well as research and development efforts like creating a National Semiconductor Technology Center. This will ensure we address chip shortages while also innovating for the future.


Semiconductors are vital to U.S. economic competitiveness and many technologies rely on a secure supply of these components. Cars and planes, computers and batteries, and countless other items all require this essential component, underscoring the need for domestic sources.


What can we accomplish if we invest in the new tools of manufacturing? Well, here’s an example. When the Mars Rovers, Curiosity and Perseverance, were being designed, it wouldn’t have been feasible for NASA to simulate the landing conditions in a lab. Instead, engineers used Siemens software to design, test and verify that the Rovers were mission ready. These digital twins, as we call them, can also be created for processes, factories, critical infrastructure, and supply chains. The same digital technology that enabled discovery on the Red Planet, if scaled throughout U.S. manufacturing processes and the supply chain, will change the game for U.S. industry, our economy and national preparedness.


During the pandemic, Siemens used this software to create a digital twin of Medtronic’s open-source ventilator design. Now we’re developing what we call a national strategic digital twin reserve that enables government leaders and manufacturers to prepare for future emergency events and potential supply shortages by accessing a library of digital blueprints for critical items.


So, we look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to advance these manufacturing priorities. We’re all in this together. Let’s now work together across the public and private sectors to shape the future we all want.


Editor’s Note: For more on transforming America’s infrastructure, visit the related links above and subscribe to the Siemens USA podcast, hosted by CEO Barbara Humpton. Follow “The Optimistic Outlook” wherever you get podcasts or by clicking these links to your preferred platform: iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Tune InYouTube, Podbean.